“Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations so they can create the world of the future. In a complex and sometimes even dangerous world, their ability to read can be crucial.”
International Reading Association (Moore et al., 1999, p. 3)
Morning reading is the term we give to the 30 minutes of taught reading which takes place at the start of every school day. In these sessions every pupil and every teacher settle down to share a book together for half an hour. They will complete a range of text related tasks throughout the term in relation to the books. Some examples include:
- Debates and discussion
- Character profiles
- Hot seating
- Writing alternative endings
- Timelines of events
- Linking ideas to real life issues and topical discussion
It's a great way to start the school day and to give primacy to the number one skill which will determine the success of our pupils in school and beyond: reading.
The reading groups are arranged by pupils’ reading age data which is acquired from the STAR reading test. This test is used by thousands of schools across the country and gives us the chance to measure the progress of our pupils by tracking their scores against them. These tests are completed termly through English lessons.
When a pupil has finished a book, either in morning reading or in their own time, they take an Accelerated Reading quiz which allows them to track how many words they have read in the year. We track word count to encourage reading; rewards and recognition are given to pupils who have read lots. We recognise pupils who reach ‘Word Millionaire’ status by taking them on a trip at the end of the year.
The New Group Reading Test (NGRT) will be sat at the start of the year to assess students’ reading and comprehension skills in a single test when they return to us after the summer. It will help to identify areas of strength and weakness.
These standardised tests help us to understand the reading ability of our cohorts and allow us to use this information to support personalised learning and target setting.
Each test is made up of two parts:
- sentence completion, which measures decoding with some element of comprehension;
- then, depending on the student’s score, either a passage comprehension, which measures a range of comprehension skills of increasing difficulty; or very weak readers will take a phonics task.
The digital tests adjust to match each student’s reading ability as they progress through the test. This allows the accurate assessment of students of all abilities and ages.
The school is careful to measure the reading levels of all pupils in the school, and as such we are in a good position to assist when pupils are struggling to make progress because of their prior attainment or a learning need such as dyslexia. Pupils in this category are offered additional support with the Lexia programme. This intervention is run every morning during reading time and is a phonics-based reading programme the school has invested in. The pupils engage with cutting edge technology where they are walked through phonetic and longer spelling/reading strategies. A teacher is present throughout the session to help with any snags in their understanding and to issue small group intervention building on the outcomes of the programme.
The beginning of every lesson at AGFS starts with a reading task. This reading connects the learning to the world outside the classroom. It infuses pupils with a sense of the relevance and potential of the information, allows them to imagine where it could take them, and inspires them in terms of their careers and aspirations. The reading is also designed to connect lesson material to the previous learning and forecast where future lessons are headed.
The reading is coupled with carefully crafted ‘Text Dependent Questions’ which challenge the pupils to read attentively, beyond the gist. By starting each lesson in this way, we are supercharging the potential of our pupils’ literacy skills, engaging them in powerful reading of both non-fiction and fiction in every single lesson.
There is no subject that doesn’t require quality reading to become an expert. We believe that if we invest heavily in reading, we should also make full use of the pupils’ reading ability by making it a key part of every lesson. This creates a virtuous circle where the pupils not only read more but are able to glean more from the reading they do.
A key part of the feedback policy at AGFS is directed toward vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar. Every 5-6 lessons, feedback will be given on the next steps for pupils to improve and this will include feedback on literacy. Pupils will be expected to respond to all written feedback in books. Teachers will use literacy codes to help pupils own their learning and make corrections in blue pen. Teachers will also give low-stakes tests on common spelling errors and key word vocab quizzes.
Presentation in books is always a key focus, and there are school-wide expectations that titles and dates are clearly underlined and books are neatly presented. The pupils are encouraged to use their books as revision resources, so they are required to re-write any work that falls below the standard.